The Detroit Lions need safety help, but is Marcus Williams really an ideal freehand target?
As the Detroit Lions head into the offseason, with the Senior Bowl next week and free agency in March ahead of the April draft, there’s plenty to do. On the defensive side, safety stands out and could quickly become critical.
Detroit’s two top safes, Tracy Walker and Will Harris, are free agents. Walker’s re-signing seems to be a priority and he’s said good things about wanting to be back, but there’s definitely a scenario where he ends up somewhere else.
The authors on USA TODAY’s NFL Wire pages compiled into a list every team should want to sign from a free agent this offseason. Replays were allowed and The Lions Wire’s Jeff Risdon actually aimed for a safety for the Lions – Marcus Williams.
Detroit Lions Free Agency Rumors: Is Marcus Williams an Ideal Fit?
Here’s Risdon’s case for Williams:
Detroit desperately needs safety help as starters Tracy Walker and Dean Marlowe are both given free hands. Williams would be a big upgrade over anyone. His experience with Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn in New Orleans makes him an easy scheme fit, and his playmaking skills in coverage are something the Lions desperately covet in the back end of defense.
Williams is probably still best remembered for his inexplicable blunder in the Saints’ playoff loss to the Vikings at the end of his rookie season (“Minneapolis Miracle”). But he’s blossoming into a good player, with two interceptions in each of his five seasons and 28 stopped passes in the last three. This year per Pro Soccer Reference, he allowed a 48.8 percent completion rate in his reporting and set a career-high 74 tackles overall.
Referring to Aaron Glenn, who was the Saints’ defensive backs coach for five seasons before joining Detroit as defensive coordinator, Williams certainly seems a good fit for the Lions.
But this is where it could get tricky. Williams will be making money as a free agent, and the Saints’ cap situation virtually guarantees he’ll sign elsewhere. Spotrac has its market value $13.5 million per year from the top, rising to $14.2 million with a final calculated contract value (a six-year contract) after accounting for comps. Above the cap has lower valuation numbers for Williams, somewhere in the $10 to $10.5 million per year range.
Williams is a good player and he would be a scheme to fit if he reunites with Glenn in Detroit. But paying him like a top-five safety in the NFL (based on AAV) is a step too far. And it would be poor resource allocation as the Lions continue to try to build a roster that has stamina.